My three-day weekend started Thursday evening with a trip to O’Hare to pick up Jesse. I’ve known Karen’s nephew since before he was born. He’s 14 now and had saved his money for plane fare in from Minnesota. He’s a great kid with a super sense of humor. He’s always up for trying something new, especially when it comes to food. (This guy has his priorities straight!)
Dinner at Wholly Frijoles
This homestyle Mexican restaurant in Lincolnwood is a winner time and again. I tried one of the specials, grilled scallops in a garlic butter sauce with grilled jicama and their trademark spicy garlic mashed potatoes. Started with the tortilla soup, delicious with just the right amount of warmth.
Brunch at Orange
Finally, after months of intention, I finally made it to this funky Chicago eatery on N. Clark Street for breakfast. The theme is in the name–orange. The coffee was spiked with it, the walls were covered with it, and the food is influenced by it. We started with their version of sushi, called frushi (made with fruit) which was okay if you like sweet rice with your fresh fruit. We each chowed down on something different and sampled all around the table. Cinnamon roll pancakes (bigger than your head) were flavorful, chai tea french toast (stuffed with ricotta cheese), toasted coconut french toast with grilled fruit skewers, and a tasty eggs benedict-style dish with fresh pesto. Definitely worth a return visit.
U-505 at the Science & Industry Museum
The completely overhauled exhibit of the German U-boat is really amazing. A tremendous improvement over the sub’s previous display. In 2004, the boat, which was deteriorating in the elements, was dragged around to the other side of the museum and placed in an underground exhibit space. (An impressive feat in and of itself.)
Up until that time, I don’t think the exhibit had changed since 1954, when the sub was originally brought to Chicago. Visitors were allowed access to a small section of the U-boat and objects inside were hilariously labeled with typewritten 3×5 cards. Now you can walk through the entire restored sub on a guided tour that incorporates lights and sound effects to really give you the feeling of being on board. The U-505 has been elevated from museum afterthought to show piece and is an impressive Chicago destination.
Lunch at Hot Doug’s
Since I discovered this primo spot in Chicago for hot dogs, I won’t go anywhere else. If you live in Chicago and have never been, I can’t emphasize enough what you’re missing. Go! Go! Go! This time around I tried the jalapeno pork sausage with lime-guajillo chile mayonnaise and pepper-jack cheese and the Spanish chorizo with smoked paprika mustard and machego cheese. And of course, the duck fat fries. Soooooo good.
Stuffed from our late lunch, we spent the evening sloth-like in front of the fire while the first snow in weeks fell wet and sloppy outside. Inspired by our time traveling back to WWII aboard the U-505, we were all in the mood to see Das Boot. I’ve seen this movie multiple times now (twice in the theatre) and it still amazes. At four-plus hours, Wolfgang Petersen’s director’s cut of this epic German war drama is a trial to sit through, but only because it’s such a tense, claustrophobic portrait of underwater life during wartime.
Coffee at Metropolis
Saturday morning I met the gang for coffee at Metropolis on Granville, hands down the best cafe in town. And, they roast their own beans!
Naruse Fest Part II
While Jesse spent time with his grandfather, we girls spent the afternoon at the Film Center watching a double feature of classic Japanese films. Floating Clouds and Three Sisters With Maiden Hearts were way heavy on the melodrama. While I can appreciate these films for their place in Japanese cinema, and as interesting time capsules of Japanese life during the ’30s-’50s, I can’t say I’m really enjoying them. Certainly not as much as the Ozu films the Film Center featured last year.
Dinner at Indie Cafe
Love love love this Thai/sushi restaurant on Broadway. I could easily eat here three times a week. And it’s BYOB, which helps to keep the cost down when you’re ordering everything off the menu.
Bagels and Coffee
A dozen warm bagels for New York Bagel and Bialy and a pot of fresh coffee is a great way to start the day.
Oriental Institute Museum
A description of an antiquities museum housing “big rocks and stone things” sounded intriguing to Jesse, so we headed down to the University of Chicago to walk among the mummies and 40-ton sculptures from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia.
Dinner at the Ethiopian Diamond
Whenever Jesse’s in town, we try to hit a new ethnic food. This round was Ethiopian, which was a first for me as well. A huge platter of meat and vegetables (I couldn’t tell you what we had; we sampled a lot of different stuff and everything was excellent.) Spongy flatbread is your only utensil, used to scoop up the stew-like lamb, beef, chicken and veggie concoctions. Perfect comfort food for a winter day. I loved it and look forward to dining Ethiopian again.
I love being a tourist in my own town.